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Victoria favourite for third straight Sheffield Shield title

Mon, Oct 24, 9:30am by Jake Equid

After winning last season’s final at Glenelg’s Gliderol Stadium, defeating the Redbacks by seven wickets, the Victoria Bushrangers are aiming for their third title in a row and their fifth title in nine years.

The 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season will kick off on Tuesday, October 25, in a round of day-night matches with the pink kookaburra ball at the Gabba, WACA and MCG, ahead of this summer’s day-night Test matches against South Africa in Adelaide and Pakistan in Brisbane.

Cricket Australia has structured the season to help players prepare for cricket at an international level. The Shield season will again be split into two blocks on either side of the KFC Big Bash League.

Perhaps the biggest initiative that CA has introduced to aid players in taking the next step is introducing Duke cricket balls would be used in the second half of this summer’s Sheffield Shield.

Used for international cricket in the UK, the Dukes ball will feature in all Shield matches from rounds six to 10 as well as the final.

Victoria has added have elevated four rookies into an expanded squad of 31 players ahead of the 2016-17 season. West Australian Marcus Harris has signed also signed on a new long-term deal.

Since debuting for Western Australia in 2011 as an 18-year-old, Harris has amassed 2,138 runs in 42 matches for Western Australia, including four centuries and six fifties and looks like a good signing for the Bushrangers.

The squad of 31 is the largest announced in Victorian contracting history, helped by the fact that five players – Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle – are all on Cricket Australia contracts. The Vics are at $3.50 to win their third straight title.

Their opponents in the first round are Tasmania who have named their squad, with one-day skipper Tim Paine a notable absentee. Jake Doran, who signed on from New South Wales before the start of last summer, will have the duties behind the stumps.

Former Victorian paceman Cameron Stevenson is a chance to make his first class debut in the match. Tasmania are at $5.50 to win their first shield since their 2012-13.

On the second line of betting are the the one-day Matador Cup tournament champions, NSW who had a big win in the final over Queensland at North Sydney Oval on Sunday. The same team they face in the opening round of this competition but this time it’s on Queensland turf, at the Gabba.

They are at $3.75 and are always a competitive side, no matter how many players are on international duty.

Australia’s number one quick, Mitchell Starc will play but will not be bowling a large amount of overs as the Australian selectors want him to be fresh for the first test which starts on November the third in Perth against South Africa.

The Queenslanders will also have international experience in their side with Usman Khuwaja captaining the side as he and fellow batsman Joe Burns fight to be recalled into the Australian Test side. The Bulls are not expected to do much damage this year and are at $7 for the title, the highest odds of any team.

Last year’s runners-up South Australia are $6 for the shield after narrowly missing out last year. A win would have given them their first shield for 20 years, when John Howard was still prime minister.

They travel to Western Australia first up who are at $4.50 for the title and have a solid squad with Michael Klinger dominating in English County Cricket this winter and Shaun Marsh having more experience with Australia.

All Shield games will be streamed on the Cricket Australia website.

Best Bet: Victoria to win: $3.50

Sportsbet Market:

Victoria Bushrangers $3.50

New South Wales Blues $3.75

Western Australia Warriors $4.50

Tasmania Tigers $5.50

South Australia Redbacks $6.00

Quuensland Bulls $7.00

Opening Round:

Tuesday 25/10/2016

MCG 2:00pm

Victoria Bushrangers $1.41 v Tasmania Tigers $2.82

Gabba 2:00pm

Queensland Bulls $2.65 v NSW Blues $1.46

WACA 5:00pm

Western Australia $1.56 v South Australia $2.39

All times are AEDT*

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